3 Easy Ways to Combat Sugar Cravings + My Fave Clean, Low-Sugar Brands
This week is #mbgnosugarweek — and for me it’s been an important reminder how much sugar we unknowingly consume on a regular basis — with the sweet stuff sneaking it’s way into everything from condiments, salad dressings, yogurts, sauces, spice blends, soups, coffee drinks etc.
Unless you’ve been avoiding all news sources for the past decade you’re probably aware by now that too much sugar isn’t good for you — and there’s TONS of reasons why. For me it’s most helpful to think of sugar as the only food source out there that takes away from our health without contributing or adding anything positive to it. It literally doesn’t contain a single nutrient, vitamin, mineral, antioxidant or nutritional source our body needs to function, survive or thrive. Every single other food source out there — meat, seafood, eggs, dairy, grains, nuts, legumes, fruits, veggies etc. — contains at least one other nutrient your body can use for fuel (whether or not you digest it well is another matter) — but sugar? Nope. Nada.
The only thing this bad boy does is mess with your blood sugar, causing you to burn through energy quickly and leads to insulin resistance, brain fog and your body using sugar as it’s source of fuel instead of fat (thus storing fat and leading to weight gain). It’s also highly addictive, so you can get stuck in a vicious cycle of eating sugar, burning through energy quickly and then craving more sugar to re-boost your energy.
Lucky for you my friend — I’ve posted my go-to simple tips to combat sugar cravings as well as my favorite clean, low-sugar brands you can swap for better taste and health.
My #1 Tip For Combatting Sugar Cravings —
Many of my clients that come to me experiencing sugar cravings, low energy and overeating tend to be consuming too much sugar and not enough healthy fats. When you swap sugar for fat you not only add loads of flavor to any dish, but you get a slow-burning source of sustainable energy that will leave you feeling satiated and stable for hours after you eat it.
Try adding avocado, avocado oil, MCT oil, coconut oil, grass-fed butter and ghee, salmon, eggs, nuts, seeds, nut or seed butter, olives or olive oil to any snack/dish and you’ll notice an immediate difference. Just make sure you’re not consuming a ton of sugar alongside the fat — you want to be replacing it with the fat as much as possible.
My #2 Tip For Combatting Sugar Cravings —
When my clients experience cravings I have them engage with their conscious and ask themselves “Is this an emotional, physiological or habitual craving?”
Typically the craving is emotional. This is because when we eat sugar our brain releases the pleasure chemical dopamine (which is the same chemical released when doing heroin, how lovely). So many times we simply crave sugar because we want to feel good. If you check in with yourself and realize your cravings are triggered by wanting that “feel good” sense of reward — try thinking of other non-food related things that make you feel good instead. Some ideas to get you started are exercise, chatting with or meeting up with a friend or someone you love, being outside or in nature, yoga, meditation, listening to music, snuggling with your pet, having sex, etc.
If the craving is physiological, i.e. you’re starving and need to eat something or you’ll pass out and your go-to is something sweet the problem is usually 1) you’re not eating enough 2) you’re not eating enough fat or 3) you’re not eating the right foods for your body. Your body also craves sugar as a source of energy because it supplies the quickest release of it, but this energy source also burns through the quickest as a result, leaving you tired, cranky and craving more sugar to boost you back up again stat. Try adding more quality fat to your meals, eating regularly throughout the day and limiting high-sugar food sources like bread, pasta, rice, too much fruit, candy, sweeteners, etc.
If the craving is habitual, i.e. you eat something sweet at 3 pm every day or after dinner every night because it’s your routine and that’s now what you’ve trained your body and mind to expect, try swapping your normal latte or candy bar for something that will satisfy your craving and boost your health instead of take away from it. Try herbal or peppermint tea, dark chocolate (at least 70%), a piece of fruit with a scoop of almond butter and cinnamon, coconut yogurt with berries, a turmeric latte sweetened with raw honey, etc. Which leads me to tip #3 —
My #3 Tip For Combatting Sugar Cravings —
Optimize what you’re already eating.
Love your low-fat yogurt with granola in the morning? Replace it with full-fat coconut or greek yogurt (less sugar) and berries.
Buying store-bought dressings or marinades to use with meals? Try making your own lower sugar version instead (it’ll taste better too).
Craving a Reeses after dinner? Try replacing with dark chocolate and a scoop of almond butter or chocolate tea rich in antioxidants.
They key is to upgrade what you love and crave with real food sources so you don’t feel deprived. If you feel restricted and don’t enjoy what you’re eating you won’t end up following through on your low-sugar intentions, plain and simple.
Below are some of my favorite low-sugar, clean brands I use to help me eat, look and feel my best — without sacrificing any flavor or joy.
This coconut water is so naturally sweet on it’s own (no added sugars or ingredients like other brands) and incredibly hydrating — just note it still contains naturally occurring sugar so you don’t want to chug these all day long — but it’s a much better option than a diet soda or Starbucks Frappucino.
Most creamers and non-dairy and dairy milks contain sugar or added sugars. This brand doesn’t contain any sugar and is the cleanest non-dairy creamer brand I’ve found. I love putting a splash in my bulletproof or cold brew coffee in the morning.
Okay I know eggs may seem like a weird choice, but eggs are filled with healthy fats, protein and nutrients your body needs to feel satiated and energized, so you naturally crave less of the sweet stuff. I find that I tend to crave sweet things in the morning, so I like to ask myself — am I hungry enough to eat some eggs? If I am than I do and I feel fuller so much longer than if I were to have a bowl of oatmeal or sugary protein bar.
At the same token, sometimes eggs in the morning get old or I need a breakfast or snack on the go. Then I reach for Coyo Coconut Yogurt (the original unsweetened flavor) which is seriously the best non-dairy yogurt I’ve ever had (creamy, tangy, full-fat deliciousness). If you can’t imagine giving up your morning parfait, try this with the granola below for a totally upgraded version.
This is my FAVE granola as the only sweetener it contains is dates, plus good for you ingredients like nuts, seeds and coconut shavings. No other sugars, no oils or weird ingredients. Just make sure to stick to the serving size (1/4 cup).
PS – Important to note — Wildway recently voluntarily recalled certain grain-free granola codes, because the Company was notified by an ingredient supplier that an ingredient used in these products has the potential to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.
This is my go-to dark chocolate brand. I love that they use minimal REAL ingredients (no weird emulsifiers or soy lecithin), plus this sea salt flavor tastes insane. Just note it still contains cane sugar. So limit yourself to one piece, not the whole bar.
These fudgey bars will melt in your mouth and the only sweetener they use is raw honey — yes please!
This collagen peptide powder doesn’t actually have a taste, but I love adding it in my coffee or drinks and blending it for a frothy, foamy texture. Plus it contains protein and is key for healing your gut (which could have major problems if you’ve been eating too much sugar) plus promote glowing skin, gorg hails and nails.
I love the chocolate rooibos or peppermint flavor. Or try mixing them together for a classic twist. In the summer I like to make a big batch and keep in the fridge for iced tea when I’m craving something refreshing and sweet.
Another healthy fat I love to include in my diet is MCT oil, specifically this brand which is distilled from 100% pure coconut oil. MCT’s (medium chain triglycerides) are rapidly absorbed by the body and more quickly metabolized as fuel for immediate use by organs and muscles.
Try adding into your bulletproof coffees or smoothies in the morning or using it as a cooking oil with meals.
Maca powder is a superfood and adaptogen — meaning it naturally helps your body adapt to stressors — which is key for optimal fertility (in both men and women), hormone balance, a strong immune system, increased energy, stamina, improved sexual function, memory, and focus. It also has a slightly sweet, malty flavor that tastes delish in smoothies, coffees and desserts.
If you’re a Sriracha lover this is going to be your new go-to (spoiler alert — Sriracha contains sugar). This buffalo sauce has absolutely no sugar and tastes great mixed with avocado oil mayo for a tasty aioli or drizzled on top of omelets or grilled chicken.
I adore this clean non-dairy cheese brand made from cultured almond milk (and so does the meat lovin- hubby). Dairy contains lactose — which is a sugar many people have trouble digesting — so this is an awesome sugar-free alternative that may also be easier on your digestive system.
If you follow me on instagram you know I’m obsessed with tacos (it’s a weekly staple in our household and there ain’t no shame in that game). However a lot of tortillas contain corn or flour which converts to glucose (i.e.sugars) once they hit your blood stream. This brand only uses almond flour and the texture and taste is seriously amaze.
Okay so this definitely has sugar in it (ahem, all alcohol does). But it’s all about balance amIright? Plus I find when you upgrade what you’re eating with real, whole food products you’ll be able to enjoy the occasional sweet splurge or cocktail so much more (and bounce back much more quickly).
BONUS: My Fave Low-Sugar, Real-food Recipes To Satisfy Your Sweet Cravings
Golden Milk Latte — Try warm sipping it warm in winter and iced in the summer.
Salted Dark Chocolate Pot de Creme — The easiest, tastiest dessert rich in healthy fats to balance out the sweetness. I always serve if I’m hosting a dinner and compliments are endless.
Salted Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Mousse — This stuff is the chronic. If I’m craving ice cream this is my go-to.
My 5 Fave Smoothies — Low in sugar, creamy, thick, rich and naturally sweet . An awesome replacement for any sweet treat, snack or meal.
Crowd-Pleasing Salted Dark Chocolate Paleo Cookies — ‘Nuff said.
Lavender Vanilla Latte — A tasty morning treat with espresso or drink as a calming tonic at night sans caffeine.
Baked Stuffed Sweet Potato with Thai Peanut Sauce — If you’re craving something savory and sweet for a meal check this bad boy out. It’s got all the flavor components, plus rich in nutrients, fiber, protein and antioxidants.